It is well-known that, to win the playoffs, you need to be a quality road team. The Los Angeles Kings have taken that to new extremes after their Game 1 victory in Phoenix.
Prior to last night, no NHL team had ever won their first six road playoff games in a single postseason. The Kings pulled off that feat in impressive fashion last night. Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar led the way for the Kings in a solid 4-2 win over the Coyotes to draw first blood in the Western Conference Finals.
The more you watch them, the more you have to be reminded they are a No. 8 seed.
The Kings are the best team in the NHL right now – and it’s a good time to be peaking. With last night’s win, they moved to an absurd 9-1 overall in the playoffs. What’s even more impressive is their success on the road.
In all six of their road wins, Darryl Sutter’s club has won by at least two goals. It’s not like they are squeaking by in overtime; they are taking control of those games and not letting go.
Last night they were the better team most of the way against a Coyotes team that failed to play their own style of game. The Kings held a 47-27 edge in shots and never seemed out of control, despite heading into the third period tied 2-2.
But the Kings shined in the third period, like they have all postseason. Brown scored a big goal 2:11 into the third to give Los Angeles a 3-2 lead, and that was enough for the Kings to come away with a 4-2 win. With that big third period effort, the Kings have now outscored opponents 8-2 on the road in the final frame. 8-2.
They get better as the games go on, and they are getting better as these playoffs go on.
If you had to pick a Stanley Cup favorite today, it’s hard not to look at the Kings as that team. A No. 8 seed has never won the Cup; just one has ever made it to the Cup final (2006 Edmonton Oilers). But these Kings have the look of a team that has all the goods to win it all. Brown and Kopitar are having huge postseasons offensively, while Jonathan Quick is the man to beat for the Conn Smythe going into Monday’s action.
The Kings, now past the halfway point to the magic number of 16 playoff wins, have yet to give up more than two goals in a game on the road. If they keep up this success, they’ll follow in the footsteps of champions in the last 20 years that have been stellar away from home ice:
|2008||Detroit Red Wings||7-4|
|2004||Tampa Bay Lightning||7-3|
|2002||Detroit Red Wings||8-1|
|2000||New Jersey Devils||10-2|
|1998||Detroit Red Wings||8-3|
|1997||Detroit Red Wings||7-3|
|1995||New Jersey Devils||10-1|
|1994||New York Rangers||7-3|
There’s a long way to go in these playoffs, but the Kings’ road success is a big reason why they are Cup favorites today.
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images